Civilization V Brave New World - Ahmad al-Mansur of Morocco

Continuing my series of Civilization V strategies, the fourth installation will cover the African trading empire of Morocco lead by Ahmad al-Mansur.

When the area of Morocco (north west Africa) was first inhabited about 100,000 years ago, the land was a fertile savannah, rather than the arid desert and mountains that it is today, and archeological remains of several Paleolithic proto human cultures exist in the region. During the classical era, Phoenicians established colonies on west Africa, and eventually it was conquered by Carthage and then Rome, and then by Muslim Arabs around 670 CE. The earliest independent Moroccan states were the Berber kingdoms which dates to at least 110 BC, and after the repulsion of Arab rule, the Berbers resumed control. Morocco was the first nation to recognize the United States as an independent nation, and their fleet protected U.S. merchant ships from assaults from barbary pirates. The friendship treaty with Morocco is the United States' oldest non-broken friendship treaty.

Ahmad al-Mansur - portrait

After the assassination of the Saadi Sultan Mohammed ash-Sheikh, his oldest son, Abdallah al-Ghalib sought sole rule, and Ahmad al-Mansur and his brother, Abd al-Malik, had to flee to the Ottoman empire. When Ahmad al-Mansur eventually gained control of Morocco, he resisted Ottoman annexation and maintained Morocco as an independent state, he established friendly relations with many Christian European nations, and began playing the Ottomans and Europeans against each other in order to secure his position of power. Later in his reign, he launched a military campaign against the Songhai empire, which had been weakened by civil strife. The campaign was successful, but Ahmad's heirs couldn't manage the vast territory that had been conquered, so it was divided into smaller kingdoms, and the Moroccan empire went into decline. Ahmad died of the plague in 1603

Morocco was the first civilization that I played in Civilization V: Brave New World. I chose them because their trait is very general-purpose and emphasizes the new trade route mechanic.

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Grand Theft Auto V - title

Grand Theft Auto V is a game that does not get off on the right foot at all. The intro tutorial is a complete mess.

Remember how in Grand Theft Auto IV, the protagonist was introduced in a cutscene during the opening credits? We learn about his personality and motivations, and why he is coming to America. Then you get off the boat, gameplay begins, and you are immediately given a simple driving tutorial in which you taxi your drunk cousin two blocks to his shithole apartment, all the while learning more about the characters and the game world itself. Then you do some simple taxi missions that let you practice driving while simultaneously letting you learn the layout of the city and soak in the environment. Then you start getting asked to beat people up and throw bricks through store windows and get tutorialized on how to fight, shoot, and do other advanced mechanics. And during all this time, the game slowly builds up a hatred and distrust for the criminals that you are working for while simultaneously laying the foundations of the game's depressing-but-exceptionally-introspective plot.

Remember all that? Remember how well that game was paced? Remember how the tutorials always showed up at appropriate times, explained a mechanic during non-interactive cutscenes so that you can pay attention to the instructions, then lets you practice the mechanic while it's fresh in your memory? Remember how well it slowly built up the important mechanics one at a time - as they became relevant - while also immersing you in the game world and building up its story to a climactic closing of the first act? Yeah, that was great game design, wasn't it?

Well, GTA V has none of that.

Grand Theft Auto V - intro bank robbery
An almost unbearable tutorial.

The intro tutorial literally throws the player into the middle of a bank robbery in progress. You have no idea who your character is, why he's robbing a bank, who your companions are, or what the "plan" that everybody keeps telling you to "stick to" is. Then it puts an assault rifle in your hands, and a tiny little box pops up in the corner of the screen with 6-point font telling you what to do while you're trying to do the thing that it's telling you to do - and hopefully not doing the wrong thing. And then they stick you in the middle of a gunfight with an entire small army of police, and these barely-visible text popups try to tell you how to use the cover mechanics, switch weapons, and trigger super powers - all while you're being shot at. Then you go for hours before using many of these mechanics again, so you forget them all because you had zero time to practice and remember them, and they were all thrown at you at once.

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Civilization V Brave New World - Gajah Mada of Indonesia

Continuing my series of Civilization V strategies, the third installation will cover Gajah Mada and his Indonesian "spice islands".

Indonesia is an Oceanic island nation between the Indian and Pacific oceans, north of Australia. Archaeological evidence shows that the region was inhabited by Homo Erectus, and that its primitive human occupants developed relatively advanced maritime technology, allowing them to sail across the ocean between the various islands of the Australian region as early as 42,000 years ago. Its early inhabitants took advantage of the tropical conditions to create flourishing agricultural communities and became masters of wet-field rice cultivation, as well as becoming traders and fishermen.

Much of the history of Indonesia has been shaped by maritime trade. Hinduism and Buddhism arrived in Indonesia around the seventh century through trade with India, and the Indonesian people welcomed these faiths with open arms and dedicated numerous temples (called "Candi") to the gods these religions brought with them. Islamic influences began around the thirteenth century in trade missions from the Middle East, and large portions of regional populations converted to this new religion. In the sixteenth century, Portuguese explorers brought Christianity to the islands. For the most part, the various religions in Indonesia intermixed and co-existed in relative peace and harmony. Portuguese traders quickly monopolized the trade of Indonesia's native nutmeg, cloves, and cubeb pepper. The Dutch arrived soon after and established their East India Company in the region and held tenuous control over the region until the Japanese occupation leading up to World War II. Following the war, bloody struggles for control of the nation resulted in hundreds of thousands of deaths, but democracy began to supersede authoritarian rule in the early 2000's. The Republic of Indonesia is currently the world's fourth most populous country, is the 16th largest economy in the world by GDP, and currently has dominion over 17,508 islands of the Indonesian archipelago.

Gajah Mada - portrait

Gajah Mada (the "Elephant General") was a mahapatih (or "prime minister") of the Majapahit Empire during the early fourteenth century who, according to myth, made a vow not to eat any spices until he had conquered all of the southeastern Asian archipelago and united it under the empire. Little is known of his early life, but he lead the empire to the height of its power during this time and presided over the arrival of the first Muslim traders. His legacy has made him a symbol of Indonesian national pride to this day.

Success as the Indonesian Empire in Civilization V is partially determined by the player's ability to develop an intercontinental "island" empire, which grants access to the valuable nutmeg, clove, and pepper spices that dominated trade with Colonial European powers. Indonesia is also uniquely positioned in Civilization V to benefit greatly from possessing followers of multiple religions in its cities.

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Civilization V Brave New World - Pedro II of Brazil

Part 2 in my series of Civilization V strategies is intended to help you dominate the world with your Brazilian Carnivals!

Brazil was established as a colony of Portugal during the era of European colonization. It was officially named "The Land of the Holy Cross", but traders often referred to it as "The Land of Brazil", after the "brazilwood" tree dye that was the most popular and profitable export from the region. After Napoleon of France invaded Portugal in 1807, the capital of that country was temporarily re-located from Lisbon to Rio De Janeiro in Brazil. The bulk of the country is tropical and contains the majority of the Amazon rain forest and Amazon river basin. Brazil is a relatively new nation, gaining its independence from Portugal in 1822 and eventually becoming the Federative Republic of Brazil later in the twentieth century. It is the largest country in South America (in terms of both land area and population) and is the largest country which retains Portuguese as its official language. Its culture is made up of unions between primarily-Catholic Western European culture and native tribal cultures of the Pre-Columbian era.

Pedro II - portrait

Pedro "the Magnanimous" II ruled the Empire of Brazil for 58 years. He took a country on the verge of dissolving and turned it into an economic, cultural, and educational powerhouse in the western hemisphere. He was incredibly popular due to his vigorous support of freedom of speech, abolition of slavery, and public education, and he presided over the armies of Brazil to victory in all three wars that the nation was involved with during his reign. He was eventually overthrown by a military coup despite being overwhelmingly popular both domestically and internationally. He accepted European exile due to his advanced age and disinterest in maintaining the constitutional monarchy. The country then went through a period of political and economic instability before re-emerging in the late 20th century.

Brazil is a top tourist destination in the world due to its vast swaths of unspoiled lands and natural beauty. Rio De Janeiro is a particularly popular hotspot for tourism due to its festive lifestyle and the presence of the Christo Redentor ("Christ the Redeemer") statue, which is widely regarded as one of the man-made wonders of the modern world. Tourism and culture, is thus, the focus of Brazil's play-style in Civilization V: Brave New World.

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Sunday, December 8, 2013 10:15 AM

Texas has invited UNLV to go bowling!

in Sports by MegaBearsFan

Freemont Cannon pre-game firing

The Freemont Cannon, properly painted red, is fired during the pre-game ceremonies of the UNLV vs. San Jose State.

UNLV Running Rebels logo

Back in October, I expressed some doubt that UNLV's head coach, Bobby Hauck, would be able to retain his job despite a four-game winstreak. I also expressed doubt that UNLV would be able to attend a bowl this year. This team has been a disappointment for over a decade, so I've become quite used to keeping my hopes low.

But then UNLV went on to do all the things that I'd hoped they would do!

Since my last post, UNLV did beat rival Nevada and return the Freemont Cannon to its rightful place in Sam Boyd Stadium. UNLV did hit the 7-5 mark and achieve their first winning season in over a decade. And they did that by absolutely crushing San Diego state (one of the best teams in the league) in the season-closing game at Sam Boyd. As such, Hauck has been rewarded with a new three-year contract with UNLV. Congratulations, coach!

UNLV quarterback Caleb Herring celebrates

UNLV quarterback Caleb Herring celebrates with teammates after beating San Diego State.

Well, I was wrong. UNLV has been invited to a bowl. The Armed Forces Bowl decided to invite a non-Mountain West team (Tennessee State), and so the Heart of Dallas Bowl is inviting a Mountain West representative instead: and that Mountain West team is UNLV. UNLV will be playing the bowl against North Texas on January 1st, 2014 in their first bowl appearance since 2000.

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Welcome to Mega Bears Fan's blog, and thanks for visiting! This blog is mostly dedicated to game reviews, strategies, and analysis of my favorite games. I also talk about my other interests, like football, science and technology, movies, and so on. Feel free to read more about the blog.

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Star Trek: Infinite Space browser MMO may be canceled if financial aid from a co-publisher is not forthcomingStar Trek: Infinite Space browser MMO may be canceled if financial aid from a co-publisher is not forthcoming11/06/2011 According to an article I read today, the upcoming free-to-play browser-based MMO Star Trek: Infinite Space (being developed by Keen Games) may be canceled if its publisher Gameforge cannot procure financial support from a co-publisher.